Selection Bias in Web Surveys and the Use of Propensity Scores
AbstractWeb surveys have several advantages compared to more traditional surveys with in-person interviews, telephone interviews, or mail surveys. Their most obvious potential drawback is that they may not be representative of the population of interest because the sub-population with access to Internet is quite specific. This paper investigates propensity scores as a method for dealing with selection bias in web surveys. The authors' main example has an unusually rich sampling design, where the Internet sample is drawn from an existing much larger probability sample that is representative of the US 50+ population and their spouses (the Health and Retirement Study). They use this to estimate propensity scores and to construct weights based on the propensity scores to correct for selectivity. They investigate whether propensity weights constructed on the basis of a relatively small set of variables are sufficient to correct the distribution of other variables so that these distributions become representative of the population. If this is the case, information about these other variables could be collected over the Internet only. Using a backward stepwise regression they find that at a minimum all demographic variables are needed to construct the weights. The propensity adjustment works well for many but not all variables investigated. For example, they find that correcting on the basis of socio-economic status by using education level and personal income is not enough to get a representative estimate of stock ownership. This casts some doubt on the common procedure to use a few basic variables to blindly correct for selectivity in convenience samples drawn over the Internet. Alternatives include providing non-Internet users with access to the Web or conducting web surveys in the context of mixed mode surveys.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by RAND Corporation Publications Department in its series Working Papers with number 279.
Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2006
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surveys; methodology; computer programs;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- C42 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Survey Methods
- C80 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - General
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2007-08-18 (All new papers)
- NEP-ECM-2007-08-18 (Econometrics)
- NEP-ICT-2007-08-18 (Information & Communication Technologies)
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- Soest, A.H.O. van & Kapteyn, A., 2009.
"Mode and Context Effects of Measuring Household Assets,"
2009-14, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
- Arthur van Soest & Arie Kapteyn, 2009. "Mode and Context Effects in Measuring Household Assets," Working Papers 668, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
- Arthur van Soest & Arie Kapteyn, 2009. "Mode and Context Effects in Measuring Household Assets," Working Papers 200949, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
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